Since the end of the end of the public comment phase on Australia’s national model OHS laws, Safe Work Australia has been daily uploading submissions to their website. Within the last lot of uploads was a block of around 100 submissions, all of which are marked confidential and have, apparently, been submitted by individuals.
One confidential submitter shares his name with a person who has been associated with some peculiar industrial relations behaviour. In August 2009, during a heated industrial dispute concerning work on the West Gate Bridge, a trade unionist pleaded guilty to dangerous driving and to carrying a piece of pipe without lawful excuse, according to one media report.
A person with the same name is also listed in an order issued by the Federal Court of Australia in March 2009 that places restrictions on several people in relation to the West Gate Bridge project and the premises of contractor John Holland.
It is not possible to determine if this is a coincidence because the submission is confidential and submissions do not include contact details. But if it is the same person, it is a shame that the OHS submission is not publicly available because a person who may have been involved in an intense industrial dispute and who may have been legally restrained would surely provide an interesting perspective on the relationship between OHS and industrial relations.
It is relatively easy to determine the politics of organisations that make submissions but when lodged by individuals political perspectives or professional connections cannot be determined, even when the submission is not confidential. That such a large number of confidential submissions have been lodged is curious but due to due process, it is likely to remain so.